Jun 9, 2020
$100,000 Awarded to Support US-Based Independent Filmmakers Developing Narrative Feature Screenplays
San Francisco, CA – SFFILM, in partnership with the Westridge Foundation, announced today the projects that will receive a total of $100,000 in funding in the latest round of SFFILM Westridge Grants. Five filmmaking teams have been granted funding to help support the screenwriting stage of their narrative feature films. SFFILM Westridge Grants, which have been awarded twice annually, are designed for US-based filmmakers whose stories take place primarily in the United States and focus on the significant social issues and questions of our time. The application period for the next round of grants is now open at sffilm.org/makers; the final deadline to apply is July 2, 2020.
SFFILM Westridge Grants provide support to film projects in their critical early stages, safeguarding filmmakers’ creative processes and allowing artists to concentrate on thoughtfully developing their stories while building the right strategy and infrastructure to guide them through financing and production. In addition to cash grants, recipients will benefit from SFFILM’s comprehensive and dynamic artist development program, SFFILM Makers, as well as support and counsel from SFFILM, the Westridge Foundation, and a dedicated mentor.
The panelists who reviewed the finalists’ submissions were Sofia Alicastro, SFFILM Artist Development Manager, Filmmaker Programs; Blye Faust, Producer and Partner at Based On Media; Anne Lai, SFFILM Executive Director; Lauren McBride, SFFILM Artist Development Lead; Shelby Rachleff, Program Manager at the Westridge Foundation; and Benjamin Rowe, Manager at Grandview.
In a statement, the jury said, “The jury was incredibly excited to recognize this cohort of talented filmmakers. We considered a broad range of perspectives and were drawn to the varied themes explored in each of these original stories asking pressing questions of our time. There was a clear ambition expressed in all of these projects that struck us and we were moved by these storytellers’ strength of voice, clear vision, and willingness to take risks. We look forward to following these five filmmaking teams as they cleverly subvert genre and tone, twist our expectations, and craft enthralling narratives with their unique and confident points of view.”
SPRING 2020 SFFILM WESTRIDGE GRANT WINNERS
Laci Dent, writer/director/producer – screenwriting – $20,000
Della, a 13-year-old African American girl, lives in rural Louisiana with her curiously devout mother Ida. After Della begins to experience peculiar bodily symptoms linked to her mother’s prayers, both women find themselves at the center of a dark practice tied to their ancestry, the Baptist Church, and the land they’ve inherited.
Sushma Khadepaun, writer/director; Monique Walton, producer (US) and Andrea Kuehnel, producer (Germany) – screenwriting – $20,000
Anita, an enthusiast of American sitcoms in small-town India, orchestrates her own “arranged marriage” and moves to America in the hope of a more exciting and independent life. But Anita’s escape begins to feel like a trap when she finds herself completely dependent on her husband in suburban Texas. Anita must find a way to reconcile her expectations with her reality.
Andrew Thomas Huang, writer/director; Angela C. Lee, Nate Matteson, and Hiro Murai, producers – screenwriting – $20,000
Set in 1966 Los Angeles, Tiger Girl is a coming-of-age fantasy about a repressed teenage Chinese American girl haunted by a tiger lurking in her attic. When pressured by her immigrant mother’s rigid social expectations, the girl must learn that the beast upstairs is the tiger within that will set her free.
Untitled Opa-Locka Project
Keisha Rae Witherspoon, director/co-writer; Jason Fitzroy Jeffers, co-writer/producer; Jonathan David Kane, producer – screenwriting – $20,000
Untitled Opa-Locka Project is a meditative and ultimately transcendent story about a strange young man named Ev who struggles with the ills of a small world because he has already touched the stars. A paranoid and isolated young card shark from inner-city Miami, Ev believes his mother was abducted by aliens, and now seeks answers from a suspicious new UFO cult in the neighborhood.
The Weight of Land
Daniel de Lacerda e Drummond, writer/director/producer; Aaron Fink, Gia Rigoli, and Esteban Zuluaga, producers – screenwriting – $20,000
When a family of Latino ranch-hands learn they’ve inherited one of the largest ranches in their region, the promise of a better future seems certain. But when ranch-hands become ranch owners, small-town politics and feuds spurred by that windfall drive a wedge between the Estradas and their small Arizona town. As the stakes keep rising, the cracks within their own family start to show, sometimes with deadly consequences.
The SFFILM Westridge Grant is part of a robust suite of funding and support initiatives facilitated by SFFILM Makers, the artist development branch of SFFILM. Additional programs include the SFFILM Rainin Grant, the SFFILM Documentary Film Fund, the FilmHouse artist residency program, and a range of fellowships and professional development opportunities. For more information, visit sffilm.org/makers.
SFFILM Makers (formerly “Filmmaker360”), the organization’s artist development program, provides significant financial and creative resources to independent filmmakers through grants, fellowships, residencies, fiscal sponsorship, and more. Since 2009, over $7.5 million has been disbursed to more than 250 film projects in various stages of production. Highlights include the SFFILM Rainin Grant and the SFFILM Westridge Grant, which together distribute the most nonprofit funding for narrative features in the United States; a joint effort with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to cultivate stories rooted in science and technology; and the Documentary Film Fund, a partnership with the Jenerosity Foundation. For more information, visit sffilm.org/makers.
The Westridge Foundation seeks to support individuals, organizations, institutions, and programs dedicated to promoting community and/or national social good.
SFFILM is a nonprofit organization with a mission to champion the world’s finest films and filmmakers through programs anchored in and inspired by the spirit and values of the San Francisco Bay Area. Presenter of the San Francisco International Film Festival, SFFILM is a year-round organization delivering screenings and events to more than 75,000 film lovers and media education programs to more than 12,000 students and teachers annually. In addition to its public programs, SFFILM supports the careers of independent filmmakers from the Bay Area and beyond with grants, residencies, and other creative development services. For more information visit sffilm.org.